Soyuz is in the launch zone for its December 17 mission with Galileo navigation satellites
Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz has moved to the launch pad in French Guiana – and is now ready for integration of its two Galileo satellite passengers at the workhorse vehicle’s dedicated Spaceport complex.
With today’s rollout and vertical positioning of the basic three-stage vehicle, Arianespace’s Soyuz marked a key step toward its December 17 mission that will deploy the latest two FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites for Europe’s Galileo space-based navigation system.
The Soyuz for Arianespace’s Flight VS13 is shown after being suspended over the launch pad by four support arms. At left is the 53-meter-tall mobile gantry, which is moving in to protect Soyuz during the upcoming integration of its “upper composite.”
Soyuz was moved via a transport/erector rail car in a horizontal-transfer process from the MIK launcher assembly facility to the Soyuz ELS launch complex – located at the Spaceport’s northwestern sector within the commune of Sinnamary. Once on the launch pad, Soyuz was erected to the vertical orientation, where it was suspended in place by four large support arms, followed by the transport/erector rail car’s withdrawal.
With this step complete, the mobile gantry was moved into position around the launcher, providing protection for the subsequent installation of Soyuz’ “upper composite” – composed of the two Galileo spacecraft and their dispenser system, the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing.
The December 17 launch – designed VS13 in Arianespace’s numbering system – is scheduled to lift off at precisely 8:51:56 a.m. local time in French Guiana, with its Galileo satellite passengers to be deployed during a flight lasting approximately 3 hrs., 47 min. Total payload lift performance is estimated at 1,603 kg.
Flight VS13’s passengers were built by OHB System, and their navigation payloads were supplied by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.
The European Commission is managing and funding Galileo’s FOC phase – during which the network’s complete operational and ground infrastructure is being deployed. The European Space Agency has been delegated as the design and procurement agent on the Commission’s behalf.